Primary Document (589 KB)


Paper: “Salut à la France, Vive le ‘tomboy’: Gender Diversity in Donizett’s La fille du régiment,” by Emily Bradford (third year, double major in Music and Rhetoric & Communications)

Emily examines the transgressive aspects of gender representation in one of Donizetti’s comic operas by using modern gender theory on the tomboy. She demonstrates that while the central character, Marie, finds a romantic match by the end of the opera, she also embraces qualities of traditional masculinity, inherited from her military “fathers.” Marie’s role as vivandière, while conventionally feminine and domestic, also further “solidifies Marie’s identity as a member” of the regiment. Emily suggests that the opera illuminates how gender functions as performance: Marie did not grow up “surrounded by more codified gender rituals,” thus freeing her to emulate the activities and behaviors that constitute military life (or at least its operatic simulacrum). Examining two of Marie’s arias at different points in the plot reveals the degree to which Marie clings to gender nonconformity in the midst of her identity crisis: a lack of musical development from one aria to the next reflects her unwillingness to adopt more conventionally feminine behavior. In the paper’s conclusion, Emily favorably compares Marie’s story with the “post-feminist” 2001 film, The Princess Diaries, which shares many plot similarities with La fille du régiment. But unlike Donizetti’s opera, which allows Marie to keep her inner tomboy, the film “presents learning to perform femininity as a major catalyst for its heroine’s success.”

Date Submitted

Fall 2016

Document Type



La fille du régiment, Gaetano Donizetti, gender representation, The Princess Diaries


Musicology | Music Performance

Salut à la France, Vive le ‘tomboy’: Gender Diversity in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment